Lauren Worsham, Adam Monley and Mike McGowan star as impressionable soprano Lili, war veteran/puppeteer Paul and womanizing magician Marco, respectively, in Goodspeed Musicals' staging of the tale of innocence confronted by cynicism.
Carnival! continues through Sept. 18 in East Haddam, CT. Aerialists from Suspended Cirque enliven the production directed by Darko Tresnjak.
Based on the 1953 film "Lili," and featuring the songs "Love Makes the World Go Round" and "Her Face," Carnival! features music and lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Michael Stewart, based on material by Helen Deutsch, with revisions by Francine Pascal. This version of the 1961 musical was seen at the Kennedy Center in 2007; that revival cut the song "A Very Nice Man" (a song for newcomer Lili, pitching herself as an employee at the circus) but Tresnjak has restored it.
Many consider Carnival! — the tale of a naïve young woman who joins a traveling circus, encountering acrobats, jugglers, singers and clowns, a manipulative magician and a disillusioned puppeteer — to feature the best score in the career of composer-lyricist Merrill (Take Me Along; New Girl in Town; Henry, Sweet Henry). Merrill also penned lyrics for Jule Styne's score to Funny Girl.
The score includes "Direct from Vienna," "Mira," "I've Got to Find a Reason," "A Sword and a Rose and a Cape," "Humming," "Yes, My Heart," "Magic Magic," "Everybody Likes You," "Yum Ticky Ticky Tum Tum," "We're Rich," "Beautiful Candy," "Her Face," "Grand Imperial Cirque De Paris," "I Hate Him," "Always, Always You" and more. Worsham was Cunegonde in New York City Opera's recent Candide; Monley appeared in Broadway's Mamma Mia!; McGowan's credits include Broadway's Ragtime, Grease, The Apple Tree and The Producers.
Marco's assistant Rosalie is played by Michelle Blakely, who performed in the Broadway revivals of Annie Get Your Gun and Grease. Fellow puppeteer Jacquot is played by Nathan Klau (national tour of Jersey Boys). Circus owner Schlegel is played by Laurent Giroux, whose Broadway credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dancin' and Pippin.
Price Waldman from Broadway's The Little Mermaid and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! joins the ensemble, which also features Timothy Hughes, Kara Kimmer, Robin Masella, Clifton Samuels, Amy Shure, Justin Urso and Dana Winkle. The swings are Miguel Edson and Melissa Steadman.
The ensemble includes Joshua Dean and Ben Franklin, co-founders of New York-based aerial theatre company Suspended Cirque.
The creative team for Carnival! includes choreographer Peggy Hickey, scenic designer David P. Gordon, costume designer Fabio Toblini, lighting designer John Lasiter, puppet designer Robert Smythe, music director Michael O'Flaherty, assistant music director F. Wade Russo, orchestrator Dan DeLange.
Carnival! is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.
Tickets are available through the box office at (860) 873-8668, open seven days a week, or online at www.goodspeed.org.
The original Broadway cast featured featured Anna Maria Alberghetti, Kaye Ballard, Henry Lascoe, James Mitchell, Pierre Olaf and Jerry Orbach.